The nearest major airport is in Madrid, about 90 miles west. From LAX, direct service (at least one stop, no change of planes) is on US Airways; connecting-service (change of planes) providers include Air France, American, British, Continental and Delta. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $661.

From Madrid's Atocha station, four trains depart daily for Cuenca. The trip takes 2 1/2 hours and costs about $9.50 each way.

To call numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (international code), 34 (country code for Spain) and 969 (area code for Cuenca).

Parador de Cuenca, Subida a San Pablo, S/N, 16001 Cuenca; 232-320, fax 232-534, . The top hotel in town. Formerly the convent of San Pablo. Many of its comfortable rooms have spectacular views of old town and the hanging houses. Doubles about $120.

Posada de San José, Julián Romero 4, 16001 Cuenca; 211-300, fax 230-365, . Less luxurious but more charming. Beamed ceilings, whitewashed walls and tile floors that slope with age all create the feeling of a Renaissance inn. Some rooms have balconies. Doubles with full bath from about $60.

Hotel Leonor de Aquitania, Calle San Pedro 60, 16001 Cuenca; 231-000, fax 231-004, . Views of gorge, pleasant rooms. Doubles from $82.

Mesón Casas Colgadas, Calle Canónigos 3; 223-509. Excellent regional specialties. Entrees include stewed partridge and grilled lamb chops. Reservations recommended. Lunch with wine, tax and tip ran about $45 per person — a worthwhile splurge.

Parador de Cuenca (see above) serves workmanlike versions of regional cuisine with a few standouts, such as migas con uvas, a combination of bread crumbs, sausage and grapes. Reservations recommended. Dinner with wine, tax and tip ran about $48 per person. Breakfast in the cafe was $9.50.

La Tinaja, Calle Obispo Valero 4; 231-891. Tapas bar specializing in grilled meats. Dishes from $4.50.

Tourist Office of Spain, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 960, Beverly Hills, CA 90211; (323) 658-7188 or (323) 658-7192, fax (323) 658-1061, .

Cuenca tourist information (Spanish only), .